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Bryant v. State, Department of Health and Hospitals

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

January 16, 2019

JORDAN BRYANT
v.
STATE OF LOUISIANA, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS, ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO. 259, 927 HONORABLE GEORGE C. METOYER, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE

          Deirdre Renee Fuller Fuller Law Firm, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Jordan Bryant.

          Jeff Landry Attorney General Lewis O. Lauve, Jr. Special Assistant Attorney General COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Andrea Ford

          Jeff Landry Attorney General Barbara Bell Melton Special Assistant Attorney General Nate W. Friedman Special Assistant Attorney General Faircloth Melton & Sobel, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Thaddeus Green.

          Jeff Landry Attorney General Leisa B. Lawson Assistant Attorney General COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Department of Children and FamilyServices

          Jeff Landry Attorney General Steven M. Oxenhandler Special Assistant Attorney General Michael J. O'Shee Special Assistant Attorney General COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: State of Louisiana, Department of Health and Hospitals Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities Pinecrest Supports & Services Center

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, Shannon J. Gremillion, and John E. Conery, Judges.

          SHANNON J. GREMILLION, JUDGE

         Plaintiff/Appellant, Mr. Jordan Bryant, appeals the dismissal of his personal injury claim against the Defendants/Appellees, Andrea Ford, Thaddeus Green, and the State of Louisiana through the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD), Pinecrest Supports & Services Center (Pinecrest), and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on exceptions of prematurity and prescription.

         The facts alleged in Mr. Bryant's original petition assert a very tragic incident in which Ford and Green, employed at the time by Pinecrest, took Mr. Bryant, a resident of Pinecrest, into his room and used excessive force to subdue him. As a result, Mr. Bryant's neck was broken, and he was rendered a quadriplegic. In his petition, he alleged a number of negligent and intentional acts and omissions on the defendants' part, including allegations that sound as though at least part of his demand is based upon medical malpractice. Prior to filing his suit, though, Mr. Bryant did not request that his matter be submitted to a medical review panel (a panel) pursuant to the Medical Liability for State Services Part of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (the Act), La.R.S. 40:1237.1 et seq., which, with certain exceptions, requires that medical malpractice claims against the State first be submitted to a panel.

         The defendants filed exceptions of prematurity and prescription in which they asserted that Mr. Bryant's claim was premature because he did not convene a panel and had prescribed because more than a year elapsed since his injury and he had not initiated his claim properly. Mr. Bryant amended his petition several times in an attempt to address the exceptions. At the hearing on the exceptions, no evidence was introduced. No documentary evidence was attached to any of the defendants' exceptions. The trial court granted the exceptions as to all defendants. This appeal followed. Mr. Bryant asserts that the trial court erred in granting Appellees' exceptions of prematurity and prescription because they failed to carry the requisite burden of proof. He further asserts that the trial court erred in applying the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act to the allegations asserted in his petition. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

         ANALYSIS

         The Act erects a framework within which all medical malpractice claims against state health care providers must be pursued. "'Malpractice' means the failure to exercise the reasonable standard of care specified and required by Subsection B of this Section, in the provision of health care, when such failure proximately causes injury to a patient, as provided in Subsection B of this Section." La.R.S. 40:1237.1(A)(4). The definition of "State health care provider" is lengthy; however, it essentially encompasses all state departments and agencies that provide health care services, including their employees acting in the course and scope of their employment. La.R.S. 40:1237.1(A)(9).

         "No action against the state, its agencies, or a person covered by this Part, or his insurer, may be commenced in any court before the claimant's complaint has been presented to a state medical review panel established ...


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